When we lived in Virginia, we had seasons passes to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for several years. I’d always go with them to the park, but I couldn’t get on extreme rides. First, I was recovering from a concussion. Then, I was pregnant. In the end, though, fear kept me off the good stuff. As my son got in line one time, I found myself wondering “how scary is Griffon?”
It wasn’t until we moved to Idaho and went back for a visit that I finally got to experience it for myself. By the time I rode Griffon, though, I was a far more experienced roller coaster enthusiast. I’m kind of glad I had to wait. Let’s take a look at some ride specs to give you a better idea of whether to get in line.
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Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
If you’re interested in riding Griffon, you’ll need to head to Williamsburg, Virginia. It’s about an hour from Richmond, but it can take much longer. The I-64 is an unpredictable route. You’d be surprised by some of the slow-moving traffic you can encounter on this commute.
We’d recommend staying in the area (and checking out some of our favorite places to eat in Williamsburg!) to avoid delays and stress. There’s a lot to see (Colonial Williamsburg, the Jamestown Settlement, and the College of William & Mary, for example) and we always liked shopping at the nearby outlet mall.
Is Griffon a Roller Coaster?
Yes, Griffon is a roller coaster. In fact, it’s a dive coaster which is an extreme type of roller coaster. What makes it so intense? There’s a 90-degree drop right at the beginning! So, as the name suggests, it will feel like you’re taking a dive.
When it opened, Griffon replaced its sister ride, SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, to become the tallest, fastest dive coaster in the world. Eventually, Valravn at Cedar Point would unseat Griffon. Most recently, Yukon Striker at Canada’s Wonderland topped them all to become the tallest, fastest, and longest dive coaster (with the most inversions, too!). We’ve ridden all three!
Related post: How to Overcome Fear on Roller Coasters
Here are some quick facts about Griffon:
- Opening date: May 18, 2007
- Lift/launch system: Chain lift
- Length: 3,108 ft (947 m)
- Height: 205 ft (62 m)
- Drop #1: 205 ft (62 m)
- Drop #2: 130-foot (40 m)
- Inversions: 2
- Max speed: 71 mph (114 km/h)
- Max vertical angle: 90°
- Duration: 3:00
- G-force: 4
- Ride Height Requirement: 54 in (137 cm)
- Trains: There are three trains with three cars. Riders are seated 10 across per row, for a maximum of 30 people per train.
Loading Area, Seats & Restraints
There is nothing special about the queue or loading area for Griffon. It’s a basic roller coaster prep area featuring a lot of metal and concrete. Once you load into your seat, you’ll be secured in place by a seatbelt and over-the-shoulder harness.
Is Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg Scary?
Griffon was the first Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) dive coaster to use floorless trains. What that means is that, after being secured into your seat, the floor beneath your feet drops. This allows your feet to dangle and they will swing around like a ragdoll for the rest of the ride. It adds to the thrill for some, but others might find this feeling unnerving.
The chain lift makes that signature “clink, clink, clink” sound as you ascend to the top. With 205 feet to climb, you’ll have plenty of time to rethink your decision.
Once you reach the top, you’ll navigate a short length of track before perching at the top of the drop for five seconds. You’ll hear a click, and then the car will be released down the first drop. There’s no good way to prepare you for how you will feel, but you truly do just drop while facing down until you enter a quick tunnel.
This drop will probably take your breath away for a moment, but I make an effort to start screaming as soon as the drop begins. I find it helps with the butterflies in my stomach (fortunately, Griffon doesn’t give me motion sickness!).
There is a similar drop halfway through the ride but it’s much shorter (130 feet). By the time you get to that, you probably won’t even care.
A section of the track goes along a small pool of water. It causes some spraying behind you and you may feel some mist on your face.
Griffon reaches a maximum speed of 71 mph (114 km/h). Some rides feel faster or slower than expected, but Griffon feels true to its actual speed.
The over-the-shoulder harness and seatbelt feel secure and appropriate for this ride.
Busch Garden Williamsburg is open some days in late fall and opens for special holiday events in the winter. If you ride Griffon in cold weather, expect that first drop to feel pretty brutal. The cool wind just hits different, and not in a good way.
Best Things About Griffon at Busch Gardens
It’s always thrilling to get on something that once held world records. Also, dive coasters are a totally different beast. After years of being unable or unwilling to get in line, I was absolutely stoked to say that I conquered Griffon (here’s a video).
Aside from that, even though Griffon opened in 2007, it’s still a solid ride. The park maintains the roller coaster well, and the views are amazing. After all, Busch Gardens Williamsburg regularly wins awards for being the most beautiful theme park!